Reflections on the Passing of Ron Lindner

Legendary angler, educator, writer, publisher and entrepreneur Ron Lindner died November 30. He was 86 years old.

Born in Chicago in 1934, Ron and his brother Al built a fishing empire by educating others about our sport. He was a pioneer and leaves a void with his passing.

I did not know Ron Lindner well, but I can tell you that he was an imposing figure in our industry. Larger than life, he seemed to burst at the seams with energy and ideas. On those occasions I spoke with Ron he was always excited about something — a new program, a new story, a new something that was going to be better and bigger and more effective than anything that had come before.

I admired his enthusiasm and tenacity, his unyielding dedication to the sport. Most of our conversations were more or less one-way. He talked, he expounded, he explained. I tried to keep up. Sometimes you just have to let that kind of passion carry you away.

I have admired the Lindners since the 1970s when I began to get serious about my fishing as a teen. What they were doing with In-Fisherman really fascinated me. Thinking about it now, it was the Lindners and Ray Scott who set me on the path that became my career.

It was — obviously — a different time. Things were changing fast in the fishing world. In fact, I think changes were coming faster then that at any other time in our sport’s history. The “me and Joe” stories that dominated the Big Three for time immemorial were being replaced by practical how-to and scientific content in In-Fisherman and Fishing Facts and by species-specific publications like Bassmaster Magazine. The fishing world would never be the same, and Ron Lindner was one of the people leading the way.

I still have almost every issue of In-Fisherman (I’m missing some of the early “Study Reports”) and look back at them often. They brought science and education to the fore like nothing else. Al was the editor and Ron was the publisher, but both were splashed all over the magazines and then the television shows. Both were bright, exuberant and full of helpful advice. I just had to cut through those Chicago accents so that I could “maximize my potential to put fish in the boat.”

I bought all their books, too — well, all the bass books anyway. I was a Southern kid, and though I may have dreamed of catching a musky, it didn’t seem likely in the canals of Miami or farm ponds of South Carolina.

Largemouth Bass Secrets, Largemouth Bass in the 1990s, The In-Fisherman Secret System and more have places of honor on my bookshelf. They’re still among the best titles ever published on the sport. They took fishing to a new level and showed us that there were skills to learn, habits to study, patterns to follow. It was not all about luck or the Farmer’s Almanac.

As I reflect about Ron Lindner, I realize there’s almost nothing he didn’t do in the sportfishing industry. He was a guide, a publisher, a designer of gear, a television and video personality, a writer, a business person, a speaker and spokesperson and much, much more.

But I will always think of him as an educator and as an ambassador for our sport and our lifestyle. He inspired me and still does. I am very fortunate to have known him, if only a little.

As I get older and lose more and more friends in the fishing world, I try to focus on what they left behind rather than dwell on their passing. To do otherwise is just too sad. Too negative.

Ron Lindner’s passing certainly leaves a void, but it should also leave us inspired to try to do as much for fishing as this giant.